Effects of modification of the transcription initiation site context on citrus tristeza virus subgenomic RNA synthesis.
ABSTRACT: Citrus tristeza virus (CTV), a member of the Closteroviridae, has a positive-sense RNA genome of about 20 kb organized into 12 open reading frames (ORFs). The last 10 ORFs are expressed through 3'-coterminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) regulated in both amounts and timing. Additionally, relatively large amounts of complementary sgRNAs are produced. We have been unable to determine whether these sgRNAs are produced by internal promotion from the full-length template minus strand or by transcription from the minus-stranded sgRNAs. Understanding the regulation of 10 sgRNAs is a conceptual challenge. In analyzing commonalities of a replicase complex in producing so many sgRNAs, we examined initiating nucleotides of the sgRNAs. We mapped the 5' termini of intermediate- (CP and p13) and low- (p18) produced sgRNAs that, like the two highly abundant sgRNAs (p20 and p23) previously mapped, all initiate with an adenylate. We then examined modifications of the initiation site, which has been shown to be useful in defining mechanisms of sgRNA synthesis. Surprisingly, mutation of the initiating nucleotide of the CTV sgRNAs did not prevent sgRNA accumulation. Based on our results, the CTV replication complex appears to initiate sgRNA synthesis with purines, preferably with adenylates, and is able to initiate synthesis using a nucleotide a few positions 5' or 3' of the native initiation nucleotide. Furthermore, the context of the initiation site appears to be a regulatory mechanism for levels of sgRNA production. These data do not support either of the established mechanisms for synthesis of sgRNAs, suggesting that CTV sgRNA production utilizes a different mechanism.
Project description:Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) produces more than thirty 3'- or 5'-terminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) that accumulate to various extents during replication in protoplasts and plants. Among the most unusual species are two abundant populations of small 5'-terminal sgRNAs of approximately 800 nucleotides (nt) termed low-molecular-weight tristeza (LMT1 and LMT2) RNAs. Remarkably, CTV replicons with all 10 3' genes deleted produce only the larger LMT1 RNAs. These 5'-terminal positive-sense sgRNAs do not have corresponding negative strands and were hypothesized to be produced by premature termination during plus-strand genomic RNA synthesis. We characterized a cis-acting element that controls the production of the LMT1 RNAs. Since manipulation of this cis-acting element in its native position (the L-ProI region of replicase) was not possible because the mutations negatively affect replication, a region (5'TR) surrounding the putative termination sites (nt approximately 550 to 1000) was duplicated in the 3' end of a CTV replicon to allow characterization. The duplicated sequence continued to produce a 5'-terminal plus-strand sgRNA, here much larger ( approximately 11 kb), apparently by termination. Surprisingly, a new 3'-terminal sgRNA was observed from the duplicated 5'TR. A large 3'-terminal sgRNA resulting from the putative promoter activity of the native 5'TR was not observed, possibly because of the down-regulation of a promoter approximately 19 kb from the 3' terminus. However, we were able to observe a sgRNA produced from the native 5'TR of a small defective RNA, which placed the native 5'TR closer to the 3' terminus, demonstrating sgRNA promoter activity of the native 5'TR. Deletion mutagenesis mapped the promoter and the terminator activities of the 5'TR (in the 3' position in the CTV replicon) to a 57-nt region, which was folded by the MFOLD computer program into two stem-loops. Mutations in the putative stem-loop structures equally reduced or prevented production of both the 3'- and 5'-terminal sgRNAs. These mutations, when introduced in frame in the native 5'TR, similarly abolished the synthesis of the LMT1 RNAs and presumably the large 3'-terminal sgRNA while having no impact on replication, demonstrating that neither 5'- nor 3'-terminal sgRNA is necessary for replication of the replicon or full-length CTV in protoplasts. Differences between the 5'TR, which produced two plus-strand sgRNAs, and the cis-acting elements controlling the 3' open reading frames, which produced additional minus-strand sgRNAs corresponding to the 3'-terminal mRNAs, suggest that the different sgRNA controller elements had different origins in the modular evolution of closteroviruses.
Project description:The expression of the genomic information of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV) involves synthesis of a nested set of subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) by discontinuous transcription. In SARS CoV-infected cells, 10 sgRNAs, including 2 novel ones, were identified, which were predicted to be functional in the expression of 12 open reading frames located in the 3' one-third of the genome. Surprisingly, one new sgRNA could lead to production of a truncated spike protein. Sequence analysis of the leader-body fusion sites of each sgRNA showed that the junction sequences and the corresponding transcription-regulatory sequence (TRS) are unique for each species of sgRNA and are consistent after virus passages. For the two novel sgRNAs, each used a variant of the TRS that has one nucleotide mismatch in the conserved hexanucleotide core (ACGAAC) in the TRS. Coexistence of both plus and minus strands of SARS CoV sgRNAs and evidence for derivation of the sgRNA core sequence from the body core sequence favor the model of discontinuous transcription during minus-strand synthesis. Moreover, one rare species of sgRNA has the junction sequence AAA, indicating that its transcription could result from a noncanonical transcription signal. Taken together, these results provide more insight into the molecular mechanisms of genome expression and subgenomic transcription of SARS CoV.
Project description:Numerous RNA viruses generate subgenomic mRNAs (sgRNAs) for expression of their 3'-proximal genes. A major step in control of viral gene expression is the regulation of sgRNA synthesis by specific promoter elements. We used barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) as a model system to study transcriptional control in a virus with multiple sgRNAs. BYDV generates three sgRNAs during infection. The sgRNA1 promoter has been mapped previously to a 98-nucleotide (nt) region which forms two stem-loop structures. It was determined that sgRNA1 is not required for BYDV RNA replication in oat protoplasts. In this study, we show that neither sgRNA2 nor sgRNA3 is required for BYDV RNA replication. The promoters for sgRNA2 and sgRNA3 synthesis were mapped by using deletion mutagenesis. The minimal sgRNA2 promoter is approximately 143 nt long (nt 4810 to 4952) and is located immediately downstream of the putative sgRNA2 start site (nt 4809). The minimal sgRNA3 core promoter is 44 nt long (nt 5345 to 5388), with most of the sequence located downstream of sgRNA3 start site (nt 5348). For both promoters, additional sequences upstream of the start site enhanced sgRNA promoter activity. These promoters contrast to the sgRNA1 promoter, in which almost all of the promoter is located upstream of the transcription initiation site. Comparison of RNA sequences and computer-predicted secondary structures revealed little or no homology between the three sgRNA promoter elements. Thus, a small RNA virus with multiple sgRNAs can have very different subgenomic promoters, which implies a complex system for promoter recognition and regulation of subgenomic RNA synthesis.
Project description:Hibiscus chlorotic ringspot virus (HCRSV), which belongs to the genus Carmovirus, generates two 3'-coterminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) of 1.4 kb and 1.7 kb. Transcription start sites of the two sgRNAs were identified at nucleotides (nt) 2178 and 2438, respectively. The full promoter of sgRNA1, a 118-base sequence, is localized between positions +6 and -112 relative to its transcription start site (+1). Similarly, a 132-base sequence, from +6 to -126, defines the sgRNA2 promoter. Computer analysis revealed that both sgRNA promoters share a similar two-stem-loop (SL1 + SL2) structure, immediately upstream of the transcription start site. Mutational analysis of the primary sequence and secondary structures showed further similarities between the two subgenomic promoters. The basal portion of SL2, encompassing the transcription start site, was essential for transcription activity in each promoter, while SL1 and the upper portion of SL2 played a role in transcription enhancement. Both the 5' untranslated region (UTR) and the last 87 nt at the 3' UTR of HCRSV genomic RNA are likely to be the putative genomic plus-strand and minus-strand promoters, respectively. They function well as individual sgRNA promoters to produce ectopic subgenomic RNAs in vivo but not to the same levels of the actual sgRNA promoters. This suggests that HCRSV sgRNA promoters share common features with the promoters for genomic plus-strand and minus-strand RNA synthesis. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that both the 5' UTR and part of the 3' UTR can be duplicated and function as sgRNA promoters within a single viral genome.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system has been developed to mediate genome editing and become a powerful tool for biological research. Employing the CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system for genome editing and manipulation has accelerated research and expanded researchers' ability to generate genetic models. However, the method evaluating the efficiency of sgRNAs is lacking in plants. Based on the nucleotide compositions and secondary structures of sgRNAs which have been experimentally validated in plants, we instituted criteria to design efficient sgRNAs. To facilitate the assembly of multiple sgRNA cassettes, we also developed a new strategy to rapidly construct CRISPR/Cas9-sgRNA system for multiplex editing in plants. In theory, up to ten single guide RNA (sgRNA) cassettes can be simultaneously assembled into the final binary vectors. As a proof of concept, 21 sgRNAs complying with the criteria were designed and the corresponding Cas9/sgRNAs expression vectors were constructed. Sequencing analysis of transgenic rice plants suggested that 82% of the desired target sites were edited with deletion, insertion, substitution, and inversion, displaying high editing efficiency. This work provides a convenient approach to select efficient sgRNAs for target editing.
Project description:CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing is a next-generation strategy for genetic modifications. Typically, sgRNA is constitutively expressed relying on RNA polymerase III promoters. Polymerase II promoters initiate transcription in a flexible manner, but sgRNAs generated by RNA polymerase II promoter lost their nuclease activity. To express sgRNAs in a tissue-specific fashion and endow CRISPR with more versatile function, a novel system was established in a polycistron, where miRNAs (or shRNAs) and sgRNAs alternately emerged and co-expressed under the control of a single polymerase II promoter. Effective expression and further processing of functional miRNAs and sgRNAs were achieved. The redundant nucleotides adjacent to sgRNA were degraded, and 5'- cap structure was responsible for the compromised nuclease capacity of sgRNA: Cas9 complex. Furthermore, this strategy fulfilled conducting multiplex genome editing, as well as executing neural- specific genome editing and enhancing the proportion of homologous recombination via inhibiting NHEJ pathway by shRNA. In summary, we designed a new construction for efficient expression of sgRNAs with miRNAs (shRNAs) by virtue of RNA polymerase II promoters, which will spur the development of safer, more controllable/regulable and powerful CRISPR/Cas9 system-mediated genome editing in a wide variety of further biomedical applications.
Project description:Noncanonical translation, and particularly initiation on non-AUG codons, are frequently used by viral and cellular mRNAs during virus infection and disease. The Sindbis virus (SINV) subgenomic mRNA (sgRNA) constitutes a unique model system to analyze the translation of a capped viral mRNA without the participation of several initiation factors. Moreover, sgRNA can initiate translation even when the AUG initiation codon is replaced by other codons. Using SINV replicons, we examined the efficacy of different codons in place of AUG to direct the synthesis of the SINV capsid protein. The substitution of AUG by CUG was particularly efficient in promoting the incorporation of leucine or methionine in similar percentages at the amino terminus of the capsid protein. Additionally, valine could initiate translation when the AUG is replaced by GUG. The ability of sgRNA to initiate translation on non-AUG codons was dependent on the integrity of a downstream stable hairpin (DSH) structure located in the coding region. The structural requirements of this hairpin to signal the initiation site on the sgRNA were examined in detail. Of interest, a virus bearing CUG in place of AUG in the sgRNA was able to infect cells and synthesize significant amounts of capsid protein. This virus infects the human haploid cell line HAP1 and the double knockout variant that lacks eIF2A and eIF2D. Collectively, these findings indicate that leucine-tRNA or valine-tRNA can participate in the initiation of translation of sgRNA by a mechanism dependent on the DSH. This mechanism does not involve the action of eIF2, eIF2A, or eIF2D.
Project description:As the applications of CRISPR-Cas9 technology diversify and spread beyond the laboratory to diagnostic and therapeutic use, the demands of gRNA synthesis have increased and access to tailored gRNAs is now restrictive. Enzymatic routes are time-consuming, difficult to scale-up and suffer from polymerase-bias while existing chemical routes are inefficient. Here, we describe a split-and-click convergent chemical route to individual or pools of sgRNAs. The synthetic burden is reduced by splitting the sgRNA into a variable DNA/genome-targeting 20-mer, produced on-demand and in high purity, and a fixed Cas9-binding chemically-modified 79-mer, produced cost-effectively on large-scale, a strategy that provides access to site-specific modifications that enhance sgRNA activity and in vivo stability. Click ligation of the two components generates an artificial triazole linkage that is tolerated in functionally critical regions of the sgRNA and allows efficient DNA cleavage in vitro as well as gene-editing in cells with no unexpected off-target effects.
Project description:The CRISPR/Cas9 system can be introduced into zebrafish as transgenes. Namely, expression of single-guide RNA (sgRNA) and controlled expression of Cas9 in transgenic zebrafish enables the study of gene functions in specific cell types. This transgenic CRISPR/Cas9 approach would be more useful if multiple sgRNAs could be expressed simultaneously since we could knock-out a gene more efficiently or disrupt multiple genes simultaneously. Here we describe a novel system to express multiple sgRNAs efficiently in zebrafish, that relies on the endogenous tRNA processing machinery. We cloned nine endogenous zebrafish tRNA genes, fused them to sgRNAs, and demonstrated that an active sgRNA can be produced from a precursor transcript containing either of these tRNAs. To show a proof of principle, we constructed transgenic fish expressing Cas9 under the control of the ubiquitin promoter and a single transcript containing three distinct sgRNAs, that targeted the slc45a2 (albino) gene, fused to tRNAs under the control of the U6 promoter. We found that the Tg(ubb:SpCas9,u6c:3xslc45a2-sgRNA) harbored mutations in all of the target sites in the albino gene and showed nearly complete albino phenotypes, which were amenable to imaging experiments. Thus, the tRNA-based multiplex sgRNA expression system should facilitate gene knock-out studies in transgenic zebrafish.
Project description:CRISPR-Cas9 is a powerful genome editing technology in which a single guide RNA (sgRNA) confers target site specificity to achieve Cas9-mediated genome editing. Numerous sgRNA design tools have been developed based on reference genomes for humans and model organisms. However, existing resources are not optimal as genetic mutations or single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the targeting region affect the efficiency of CRISPR-based approaches by interfering with guide-target complementarity. To facilitate identification of sgRNAs (1) in non-reference genomes, (2) across varying genetic backgrounds, or (3) for specific targeting of SNP-containing alleles, for example, disease relevant mutations, we developed a web tool, SNP-CRISPR (https://www.flyrnai.org/tools/snp_crispr/). SNP-CRISPR can be used to design sgRNAs based on public variant data sets or user-identified variants. In addition, the tool computes efficiency and specificity scores for sgRNA designs targeting both the variant and the reference. Moreover, SNP-CRISPR provides the option to upload multiple SNPs and target single or multiple nearby base changes simultaneously with a single sgRNA design. Given these capabilities, SNP-CRISPR has a wide range of potential research applications in model systems and for design of sgRNAs for disease-associated variant correction.